As has been said in previous posts, we want to discuss the closures of HM Coastguard Regional Coordination Centres with as many people as possible and we try to understand the questions and different points of view, and give the most straightforward, and always honest, answers and explanations.
There was a Tweet from Adam Wright @ambuadam the other day…
Now translated from abbreviated ‘Twitter speak’ the tweet was as follows:
“Coastguard stations are going nowhere! Control rooms are closing. Local Rescue teams are getting better kit & training. They are the real local knowledge”
This was his response to a tweet about loss of Local Knowledge with the closure of 50% of MRCCs (Maritime Regional Coordination Centres).
My subsequent responses to him were not acknowledged or answered in anyway.
For the sake of clarity I hope to answer the above view on closures because this seems to be one of the arguments made by those that have been ‘sold’ the current Modernisation Plan for HMCG.
- Yes Stations are going nowhere, many of the stations that are targeted in the cuts are not actually closing. They are being made into Regional centres for the Local Coastguard Volunteers that perform the shore based rescues (Cliff, Mud etc).
This begs the question of “where is the supposed cost saving, if most aren’t physically closing?” We shall have to leave that to (perhaps) a later post that looks at that area!
- Local Rescue teams are getting better kit & training.
Great, I have no problem with that except they should already be getting the best kit & training.
It would appear that this is a divisive strategy to alienate the relationship between the Local rescue groups and the Regional Control rooms. Why should one part of the service be cut to fund another when they are equally important frontline services… it makes no practical, logical or operational sense.
Any SAR service either paid or voluntary should have the best training & equipment to carry out their duties to the best of their ability. Anything less is a failure in Duty of Care as well as breaking Health & Safety Law (Risks identified can only be mitigated by the safest procedures & equipment within reasonable implementation & cost).
- They (Local Rescue teams) are the real local knowledge.
Now this is the big issue for many people… ‘local knowledge’, yes I agree that the Rescue Teams all have fantastic local knowledge and can use it to respond to any incident when they are tasked to do so by whichever control centre.
However, they may not be the ones answering the phone/radio/beacon alert or taking the initial report from whatever source.
When MRCCs are closed the plan will be that a National Call Centre (MOC) will take all Coastguard 999 calls.
The key in tasking the correct response is the initial report which needs the most accurate location information of the casualty. Often this is time critical.
With modern technology there can be some indication of where the report has come from, however this is not always accurate due to mobile phone signals reception, VHF radio signal strength, with newness of an area to the person calling or even problems with pronunciation of place names.
The first respondent (person making the call) has to describe accurately where the incident is. The existing MRCCs have sufficient knowledge of their area to pick up on description references to make use of the information.
With the MOC, the call centre staff will be trained to use a computer that holds the place names from around theUKcoastline (19,500 Miles)*. Reliance on such computerised systems demands 100% reliability and extremely accurate database cataloguing. (The track record for electronic system reliability indicates that failures will regularly happen.)
Local Knowledge has been pivotal to the campaign against closure of MRCC’s because the current knowledge held by the Regional Centres has proven to work in a majority of incidents. Success on a daily basis is why Coastguards are tested on their competency of Local knowledge every two years.
The plan for closure of MRCCs is happening; they will close before the new Call centre is set-up. The local knowledge that saves lives today will probably be lost along with the experienced staff that used it every day.
The new Call Centre is based on a theory with no operational proof. The national database of place names & locations does not yet exist.
There is only one description for this situation; ‘Gambling’ with the lives of the public!
This view is not held only by one person alone but hundreds if not thousands of people, some of whom know the Coastguard profession extremely well, because they work in it or work with it.
HAVE WE CLARIFIED THE IMPORTANCE OF THE ‘LOCAL KNOWLEDGE’ ISSUE?
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS ISSUE?
*Taken from the Cartography website http://www.cartography.org.uk/default.asp?contentID=749
Written by Coastal Joe.